By Randy Bruns
CLARKSVILLE -- Versailles fans can probably count on one hand the number of times the Tigers have had more passing yards than rushing yards in a football game.
But when it's playoff time, it really doesn't matter how the yards are gained, as long as they lead to plenty of scores.
The Tigers utilized a big-play passing attack and their normally stingy defense to rout the Clinton-Massie Falcons 41-6 Friday night in an opening round Division IV playoff game.
With the win, the 8-3 Tigers advance to a regional semifinal matchup with Kenton Ridge, which scored in the final minute to defeat Carlisle 6-0 last night. The game will be Friday night, with the site to be announced on Sunday.
Versailles, known for its smash-mouth running style, had a hard time getting things going on the ground, as it finished with just 149 yards on 38 rushes. Coach Al Hetrick made the necessary adjustments, however, and called on his quarterback Tony McNeilan to go to the air. The sophomore signal-caller responded with poise and accuracy, as he finished with 193 passing yards and a pair of touchdown passes. "That's a little uncharacteristic for us, but when they put an 11-man front up there you've got to do something," said Hetrick his decision to go aerial. "It's something we don't like to do, but we worked on it all week. Our quarterback played a really nice game tonight."
After an exchange of punts to (Continued from page 8)
start the game, the Tigers got on the board first courtesy of McNeilan's arm. A 63-yard bomb to Curtis Wourms brought the ball to the Falcon 26, and later on a fourth-and-10, the pair hooked up again for a first down. Three plays later McNeilan found Matt Murphy in the corner of the endzone for the opening score.
Early in the second quarter the Falcons answered. Working with a short field thanks to a defensive stop, the hosts got a score when Mason Sutton threw to Justin Stechenfinger for a 30-yard touchdown pass. The point-after try sailed wide left, though, leaving the Tigers with a 7-6 lead.
Two big plays at the end of the half gave the Tigers some breathing room. The first came with less than two minutes remaining, as McNeilan's 43-yard pass to Stephen Winner brought the ball to the one, from where McNeilan snuck in for a score. The second was on defense, as the Tigers forced a fumble by Sutton that Brian Dapore fell on at the one-yard line. Russ Beisner plunged in for a touchdown one play later, giving the visitors two scores within a span of just over a minutes and a 15-point halftime lead.
Any chance the Falcons had of staying in the game evaporated quickly in the third quarter. A bad punt snap gave the Tigers the ball on the Falcons‰ ten-yard line, and Wourms found paydirt three plays later to add to the Tigers‰ advantage.
Not surprisingly, McNielan had a hand in the final two Tiger scores. After dropping back to pass and narrowly eluding a sack, the sophomore scrambled in from 21-yards out for his second touchdown of the night. The capper came early in the fourth, when McNeilan hit Wourms with a 13-yard scoring strike.
The Falcons, who lost their starting quarterback to a knee injury in the first quarter, couldn't get much going all night. They finished with just 153 total yards, and a good bit of those came on the final drive of the night against the Tiger reserves.
"That was a hard-hitting ballgame on both sides of the ball," said Hetrick. "They were a lot more physical up front than we thought they were going to be. They graduated their whole offensive line, but those kids really hit us and they set the tempo of the game in the first quarter. Once things settled down we did all right."